MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed his granddaughter's use of Malacañang Palace for a photo shoot, saying it's no big deal.
"Kadugo ko 'yan eh. Small matter, gamitin lang 'yung Malacañan," he said on Sunday night, December 17, during the birthday party of Senator Manny Pacquiao in General Santos City.
(She is my relative. It's a small matter to use Malacañan.)
He said he himself wasn't even part of the photo shoot, but if he were, it shouldn't be a problem because many other Malacañang guests take photos of themselves in the Palace.
"Wala naman ako doon. But even if I [were] there, itong granddaughter ko magpa-picture, lahat nga ng mga bisita pumupunta diyan, nagpapa-picture eh," he said.
(I wasn't there but even if I were there, my granddaughter having her picture taken is just like visitors who go there and take pictures of themselves.)
Isabelle Duterte, daughter of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte with his ex-wife Lovelie Sangkola Sumera, brought professional stylists, makeup artists, and photographers for her pictorial session, in preparation for her "debut."
The photo shoot, which included the use of the presidential seal, sparked outrage among netizens who criticized it as inappropriate use of Malacañang and as a contradiction to the President's projected image of being a man with a simple lifestyle. (READ: 'Blood red,' 'Imeldific': Isabelle Duterte draws flak for Malacañang photo shoot)
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.